Importance Stressed of Integrating Patient Information with Disease Management Programs





Dr. Dorothy Smith


Rockville, Maryland–"Patients make decisions about their prescription drug therapy every day. They weigh the risks against the benefits. Problems occur when they do not have an adequate understanding of the benefits of the medication and how it will help treat their disease," said Dorothy L. Smith, Pharm.D., President of Consumer Health Information Corporation, in her presentation at the Food and Drug Administration's program entitled "Prescription Drug Information: What is Useful for the Patient?"

"When a person suffers from a medical condition, the physician will prescribe a treatment plan that may include a medication, a special diet, an exercise plan, and lifestyle changes. The patient is given the responsibility to manage the disease. The medication is often only one component of the treatment...To take a prescription medication correctly, patients must understand how the medication fits into their overall treatment plan."

In her presentation entitled "Integrating Patient Information Programs with Disease Management," Dr. Smith stressed the importance of developing patient information programs that meet the needs of the specific patient population. Three different types of disease management programs, developed by Consumer Health, were presented as examples. While each of these patient information programs uses different patient counseling techniques, there are several common criteria:

  • The "science" of patient information is combined with the "art." Major attention is given to developing a patient information program in which both the words and the design reinforce the message.
  • All patient information is "patient-friendly" and written at the Grade 6 to Grade 8 readability level.
  • The medication is always explained in the context of the specific disease being treated. It is also explained in terms of any special diets, exercise plans and changes in lifestyle that may be required.
  • Patient instructions are developed for the administration and management of the specific formulation or brand of medication. A generic patient instruction sheet is not always adequate.
  • Medical illustrations are simplified and made "patient-friendly."
  • Practical tips are always included to manage the medication, common side effects and the disease.
  • Each program uses different patient counseling and motivational techniques to improve patient compliance.
  • Patients are encouraged to take more responsibility for the management of their drug therapies between office visits.
  • Unique patient monitoring tools are developed for each program.
  • Special attention is given to the role of the family members and caregivers.
  • Each program is peer-reviewed and many are endorsed by national organizations.

"We are spending approximately $100 billion per year to treat the complications of patient noncompliance with medications and lost productivity. A program designed to reach 75% of the population by the year 2000 must be cost-effective. Patient education programs can have a significant impact on improving medication compliance and treatment outcomes; however, programs must be cost-effective."

Dr. Smith stressed that "this equation must also incorporate the hidden costs that could be required for physicians and pharmacists to de-standardize thepatient information so that it meets the needs of patients receiving a particular brand of the medication or patients who require different instructions because of the disease being treated."

According to Dr. Smith, drug information for patients should not be rigidly standardized. "Prescription drug instructions will be more effective if the information is tailored to the specific disease being treated as well as the target patient population. For example, patient information materials for a medication used to treat asthma would be written and designed very differently for adolescent than for geriatric patients." In addition Smith emphasized that, "Standardized patient information based on a generic drug does not always apply to every brand name product."

"Our goal must be to help patients learn how to make wise decisions and to coordinate their prescription medications with the other treatments, diet, exercise and lifestyle changes that are required to effectively manage the disease...There is definitely a need to develop patient information programs that will help patients manage their medications in the context of their disease. But we cannot afford to develop a massive program unless it is safe and effective for all patients, leads to improved treatment outcomes and is cost-effective. The only way this can be accomplished is to develop high quality disease management programs that meet the needs of patients, health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry."

About Consumer Health Information Corporation

Consumer Health Information Corporation was founded by Dorothy L. Smith, Pharm.D, an internationally recognized clinical pharmacist with expertise in patient adherence and patient education. The mission of Consumer Health Information Corporation is to help patients learn how to manage their diseases and prescribed treatments safely and wisely. The company has developed more than 4000 evidence-based patient education programs for medications, medical devices, disease management and Phase III clinical trials worldwide.  A respected clinical and educational source, Consumer Health Information Corporation has won major national and international awards for excellence in patient and consumer education programs that have significantly increased patient adherence. Dr. Smith is the author of more than 130 professional articles, 23 books and has delivered more than 150 professional and scholarly addresses.

Copyright 2012 Consumer Health Information Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Consumer Health Information Corporation  

Experts in Patient Education and Adherence Since 1983
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